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Vampire-cult trial denied

Orlando Sentinel, USA
Sep. 24, 2003 • Wednesday September 24, 2003

Vampire-cult leader Rod Ferrell, who pleaded guilty in the 1996 slayings of a Eustis couple, on Tuesday was denied his request for a new trial.

In August, Ferrell told Lake Circuit Judge T. Michael Johnson that his lawyers coerced him into pleading guilty, and they failed to explain the plea could lead to life behind bars. He also argued that the lawyers knew he had used hallucinogenic drugs but did not prepare a defense that would show that factor as a major contributor to the crime.

Johnson, in his order signed Tuesday, wrote that “the defense team had good reason to advocate entering a plea. The evidence was overwhelming, based in part on the Defendant’s recorded admissions.”

Johnson said a plea agreement signed by Ferrell and his mother shows the lawyers did tell them both that the jury would recommend life without parole or the death penalty. The judge also said evidence showed the lawyers did consider a defense that included Ferrell’s “voluntary intoxication” as a factor.

Results of a forensic hair analysis were negative, he wrote, and a summary of available defenses included Ferrell’s “mental illness coupled with lack of sleep and drug-induced state.”

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